Birth Sign to Bad Omen Records; Three-Song Demo Posted

Posted in Whathaveyou on August 2nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

San Diego’s Birth will make their full-length debut in 2022 through Bad Omen Records. In conjunction with Tee Pee‘s digital annex, the band bringing together former members of Astra and, on the demo, Radio Moscow, have made their first three-songer demo available as a get-introduced name-your-price download. This material has been kicking around a while — “Descending Us” was posted here in 2017 — and I don’t know who might be playing drums on the impending record, if in fact anybody will, but the demo’s righteous classic prog and one hopes and expects the album will follow suit, given the personnel and Mellotrons involved.

This’ll be good. It’s an easy bet. Grab the demo while you can and keep an eye out for more about the album.

Here’s PR wire info:

birth birth

San Diego Prog-Psych Stunners Birth Sign with Bad Omen Records

Ascending Underground Rock Band Featuring Members of Astra Begins Work on Debut Full Length; Offers Three Song Digital Demo for Free Download

Southern California psychedelic/progressive rock unit, Birth, has signed with respected rock label Bad Omen Records (Wytch Hazel, Spell, Satan’s Satyrs). Featuring members of San Diego’s revered retro rockers Astra, along with current or former members of Joy and Radio Moscow, Birth owns a cavernous cache of credibility rarely found in newly-formed musical groups. Birth is currently in the studio, assembling its debut full length LP which is slated for release in early 2022.

In celebration of the signing, Birth has made its self-titled debut/demo EP available for free download via its Bandcamp page. Visit birthprog.bandcamp.com (powered by our friends at NYC’s Tee Pee Records) to absorb this band’s first three formative forays; soaring songs which mark the spark of creation for the Birth universe and deliver a blast of vibrant progressive rock rich in cinematic scope and psychedelic intensity.

Featuring guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Conor Riley (keyboards, vocals, acoustic guitar) and guitarist Brian Ellis, musicians who burst onto the prog-psych scene in the late aughts with Astra, a formidable, foundational group who would shape the sound of things to come alongside co-conspirators Earthless, Diagonal and Dungen, and whose albums ‘The Weirding’ (2009) and ‘The Black Chord’ (2012) stand proud as two of the greatest progressive achievements of this century thus far, there is a palatable excitement surrounding Birth and the group has been pegged as one to watch in underground circles.

Joining forces as Birth with bassist Trevor Mast and drummer Paul Marrone (for the recording of the demo), the fledgling foursome have created a soundtrack for an epic sci-fi saga on an imaginary timeline which may well lead some listeners back to the wide-eyed days of the early 70’s, offering shades of ‘The Yes Album’, the wayward serenades of Van Der Graaf Generator, the demented potency of King Crimson and even the stellar travelogue of Far East Family Band. On ‘Birth’, elegiac mellotron-assisted songcraft and richly melodious solo passages melt together into kosmische melancholia; a thrilling celestial collision of delirious fantasy, lysergic sonic adventure and thundering jam-room chemistry.

Birth are:
Conor Riley – Keyboards / Acoustic Guitar / Vocals
Brian Ellis – Lead Guitar / Keyboards
Trevor Mast – Bass
Drums on [demo] recording: Paul Marrone

https://www.facebook.com/Birth.prog
https://www.instagram.com/birth_prog/
https://birthprog.bandcamp.com/
http://www.bad-omen-records.com/
https://www.facebook.com/BadOmenRecords/
http://www.instagram.com/badomenrecords
https://badomenrecords.bandcamp.com/

Birth, Birth (Demo) (2021)

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Old Man Wizard Announce Final Album Kill Your Servants Quietly

Posted in Whathaveyou on July 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

With the record on for the first time as I write this, I’m kind of doing the stages of grief with Old Man Wizard‘s Kill Your Servants Quietly. Nah, it won’t really be their last album. Well fuck that. Maybe just one more after this. It’s a bummer they’re done. And maybe they really are.

Set to release Nov. 5, Kill Your Servants Quietly follows 2018’s Blame it All on Sorcery (discussed here) and 2013’s Unfavorable (review here) and will indeed reportedly be the final long-player from the San Diego progressive rock trio. And yeah, Francis Roberts has plenty of other stuff going, between King Gorm and making synth soundtracks to videogames both real and imagined, but to find Old Man Wizard still pushing their sound forward in the disco-rocking “Today” after the acoustic-led “Your Life,” lush melody pervading all the while to tie it together just emphasizes how individual what they did was and, at least until November, is. Back to being bummed I go.

You’ll note the artwork here in conversation with Unfavorable. Valin Mattheis also did the second record, though it was in a different style.

Album info came down the PR wire:

Old Man Wizard Kill Your Servants Quietly

Old Man Wizard – Kill Your Servants Quietly – Nov. 5, 2021

Kill Your Servants Quietly is the third and final studio album from Progressive Heavy Rock outfit Old Man Wizard. It follows the release of two full-length LPs: Unfavorable (2013) and Blame It All On Sorcery (2018).

Guitarist/Vocalist Francis Roberts writes:
“This is my favorite album I’ve ever made. I love the songs I wrote for it, I loved working on it, and I’m really looking forward to sharing it with everyone. The plan was to record it in a very old school way: guitar/bass/drums live in the same room together with only eight inputs for the band, edited and mixed down to backing tracks, and adding vocals and other stuff as overlays. We got through the live recording part with eight of the songs just before the pandemic hit, so we had to track vocals, overlays, and two of the songs (“Live Forever” and “Your Life”) remotely. All three of us have decent home recording abilities, so I think it turned out sounding really cool. I hope you love it as much as I loved making it.”

Kill Your Servants Quietly escorts you on a fantasy-fuelled journey with a mixture of high-energy tracks and emotional performances. The theatrical thunder and soaring melodies of “I Prayed” opens the album with dramatic effect. The overdriven guitar of the title track provides a heavy grounding to the soaring vocals and harmonies. With lyrics balancing on the line between fantasy and reality, the narrative explores dark ideas whilst aptly suiting the musical arrangement.

From the eerily dark instrumentation and lyrics of “God Is Your Friend” to the serene “Your Life” and dynamic “Live Forever”, Kill Your Servants Quietly is an excellently crafted album. Old Man Wizard have cultivated a distinctive sound that delivers epic drama and delight with every track.

Album Credits:
Music and Lyrics by Francis Roberts
Produced by Francis Roberts
Artwork by Valin Mattheis
Additional vocals by Mark Calabio, Drew Peters, Reece Miller
Voiceover by Bill Roper

Tracklisting:
01 I Prayed
02 Kill Your Servants
03 God Is Your Friend
04 I Wanna Know
05 Your Life
06 Today
07 Soldier’s Winter
08 Parasite
09 Falling Star
10 Live Forever

Old Man Wizard is:
Francis Roberts – Lead Vocals, Guitar, Synth, Samplers
Andre Beller – Background Vocals, Bass Guitar, Violin
Kris Calabio – Background Vocals, Drums, Percussion

https://oldmanwizard.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Old.Man.Wizard
https://twitter.com/oldmanwizard

Old Man Wizard, Blame it All on Sorcery (2018)

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Review: Various Artists, Live in the Mojave Desert, Vols. 1-5

Posted in Reviews on April 13th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

live in the mojave desert 1-5

Late in 2020, when the project was announced, Live in the Mojave Desert sounded immediately ambitious. A series of five exclusive streams, taking bands and putting them out in the Californian deserts, with civilization somewhat visible from the aerial drone shots, but definitely far enough away to have been left behind, to record live sets by Giant Rock (see also: Yawning Man, Live at Giant Rock, the video/LP something of a precursor) and be captured doing so by professional audio and video. The series was successfully pulled off, which was impressive in itself, and it set a standard for heavy acts in this era of streaming that few could hope to match. The intention was concert-film, and the results were likewise.

Heavy Psych Sounds and the newly-formed Giant Rock Records — helmed by series director Ryan Jones — have overseen physical pressings of the sets as live albums, taking the audio caught by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree with mixing by Matt Lynch at Mysterious Mammal and others. From this comes Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5, and from the moment Isaiah Mitchell starts echoing out the notes that signal the pickup in “Violence of the Red Sea” to the final wah-out, crashes and shout of Mountain Tamer‘s “Living in Vain,” it remains clear the series is something special — a grand monument built to an ugly time.

A rundown:

Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1

earthless live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

The crazy thing about this series — or one of the crazy things, anyhow — is that if it had been just Earthless, that probably would’ve been enough to be staggering. Admittedly, it is difficult to hear the audio from bassist Mike Eginton, drummer Mario Rubalcaba and the aforementioned Isaiah Mitchell and not think of the desert at night being lit up by the Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show, drones flying overhead as trippy lights flash and shift with the music, but I’m not sure that’s a bad thing. Earthless played three songs — “Violence of the Red Sea,” “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” — and that’s enough to make their release the only 2LP of the Live in the Mojave Desert set, topping out at about 77 minutes, with the entirety of sides C and D dedicated to “Lost in the Cold Sun”‘s 39-minute sprawl.

There’s a reason Earthless were the headliners for this thing, and it’s because there’s no one else who has the same instrumental dynamic they bring to the stage — or sand, as it were — and because if you’re going for “epic” as a standard, they’re the band you call. Will Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1 replace Live at Roadburn 2008 (discussed here) as the band’s supreme live-recorded statement? I don’t know, but it sure sounds incredible. “Sonic Prayer” comes through with due sense of worship and “Lost in the Cold Sun” fuzzy grace feels like the kind of thing a future generation might think of as classic rock. Watching, it was easy to get lost in the show, follow the head-spinning turns of guitar atop the ultra-sure foundation of bass and drums, and listening, it’s the same. With an exquisite mix and a vital performance, it’s every bit the best-case-scenario for what Live in the Mojave Desert could and should be.

Earthless on Thee Facebooks

Earthless on Twitter

Earthless on Instagram

Earthless on Bandcamp

Nebula, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2

nebula live in the mojave desert
(stream review here)

With Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2, I consider Nebula‘s comeback complete. The band reformed in 2017, hit the road hard, and in 2019 offered up the return studio full-length, Holy Shit! (review here), and toured again for as long as that option was available. They have new material in the works too, and what’s most striking about the trio’s performance the 10-song/48-minute set here is how characteristic it sounds. Drummer Mike Amster (also Mondo Generator, etc.) and bassist Tom Davies strap the listener down while founding guitarist/vocalist Eddie Glass takes off to the center of the universe, and amid classics like that opener, Holy Shit! cuts like “Messiah,” “Let’s Get Lost,” “Man’s Best Friend” and the new song “Wall of Confusion” fit right in. There’s never a doubt, never a question of who you’re hearing. Even the sloppiest moments are pure Nebula.

That’s what they’ve always been — part punk, part heavy psych, part pure go — and Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 2 brings that to bear without question. As a follow-up to Holy Shit! as well as the band’s second sanctioned live recording behind 2008’s Peel Session, it captures their inimitable sonic persona and the sense of chaos that their material always seems to carry, like it’s all about to come apart at any second and if it did, fuck it anyway, you’re the one with the problem. It never does come apart here, which I guess is to the band’s credit as well, but this set is nonetheless a full expression of who Nebula are as a group. Now get to work on that next record.

Nebula on Thee Facebooks

Nebula on Instagram

Spirit Mother, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3

spirit mother live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

If one might think of including Spirit Mother in the series as a risk, the risk was mild at best, and as the first of two bands representing a next generation of California’s heavy underground, the Long Beach troupe more than acquitted themselves well in their relatively brief 10-song/33-minute showing. Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 basks in the violin-conjured atmospheres of the four-piece’s debut album, Cadets (review here), and wants nothing for impact to complement that ethereal sensibility. Their songs are short, and that gives them a kind of proto-grunge edge, and the vocals of bassist Armand Lance, who shares those duties with violinist SJ, add drug-punkish urgency to the procession of one song into the next.

For a band coming off their first album, they are intricate in aesthetic in ways that might surprise new listeners, and that’s exactly why they feature behind Nebula in this series. Hearing them dig into “Black Sheep” and “Martyrs” and “Dead Cells” on Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 3 is the best argument I can think of in favor of signing the band for their next studio release, and if Heavy Psych Sounds doesn’t, someone else surely will. Not trying to tell anyone their business, of course, but Spirit Mother are happening one way or another. That combination of air, earth, and fuzz is too good to leave out.

Spirit Mother on Thee Facebooks

Spirit Mother on Instagram

Spirit Mother on Bandcamp

Spirit Mother website

Stöner, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4

Stöner live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Aired fifth but billed almost inevitably as Vol. 4, the unveiling of Stöner, the new trio from Brant Bjork and Nick Oliveri with Ryan Gut (also of the former’s solo band) on drums was a bonus to the Live in the Mojave Desert. On-again-off-again collaborators across decades, Bjork and Oliveri nestled into mostly laid-back, stripped down grooves, their stated purpose in going back to the roots of the sound they helped create in the first place. The Kyuss-ness of the central riff of opener “Rad Stays Rad” is no less demonstration of their having done so than the driving punk of the Oliveri-fronted “Evel Never Dies.” The vibe is nostalgic in that song, as well as “Rad Stays Rad,” the gleefully funked “Stand Down,” and “The Older Kids,” but if Stöner is about looking back at this point, they’re doing so with fresh eyes.

To wit, “Own Yer Blues,” “Nothin’,” and the 13-minute mint-jam finale “Tribe/Fly Girl” are more endemic of who these players have become than who they were in the early ’90s or before, and that applies to “Stand Down” too. Bjork‘s vocals sound double-tracked on some of the parts (or at least close delay), but he and Oliveri work well together as one would expect, and as a reveal for what these guys had come up with in renewing their collaboration, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 4 offers seven memorable songs that would make anything more seem unnecessarily fancied up. If their calling card is that rad stays rad, they prove it. And I know he’s not the top bill in the trio with Bjork‘s flow and Oliveri‘s bass tone, but Gut‘s contributions here aren’t to be understated.

Stoner on Instagram

Stoner website

Mountain Tamer, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5

mountain tamer live in the mojave desert

(stream review here)

Second only to Stöner in curiosity factor, L.A. trio Mountain Tamer have always held a darker edge in their sound, and that comes through in the brash 36 minutes, shouts and screams echoing out over fuzzed garage metal in a fuckall that’s punk in attitude but angrier in its underlying core. Guitarist/vocalist Andrew Hall, bassist Dave Teget and drummer Casey Garcia are the kind of band who open the show and sell the most merch when they’re done. The elements they’re working with are familiar and have been all along in their decade together and across their three LPs — the latest of them, 2020’s Psychosis Ritual (review here), was released by Heavy Psych Sounds — but more even than in their studio work, Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 5 brought to light just how much their own their sound really is.

Whether languid as in “Chained” or “Black Noise” or furious as in “Warlock” and “Living in Vain,” Mountain Tamer give Nebula a run for their money in terms of chaos, and easily make for the most pissed off listen of the bunch in Live in the Mojave Desert. The relative roughness of their edge suits them, however, and the rampant echo on the guitar assures there’s still a spacious sound to act as counterbalance to all that thrashing and gnashing. If you can call it balance, I don’t know, but it works for them and they wield their sound as knife more than bludgeon when it comes to it.

Mountain Tamer on Thee Facebooks

Mountain Tamer on Instagram

Mountain Tamer on Bandcamp

Live in the Mojave Desert Vol. 1-5 teaser

Giant Rock Records Instagram

Live in the Mojave Desert website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Thee Facebooks

Heavy Psych Sounds on Instagram

Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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Earthless Finish Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 12th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

Among the hashtags accompanying Earthless‘ social media post this morning saying they’ve finished the tracking for their next studio LP are “#kombuchabenefits,” “#moaning” and “#pain.” These sound like the makings of a good record.

The trio recorded at Singing Serpent Studios in their native San Diego, and will release the album I guess whenever they’re good and ready to hit the road to support it through Nuclear Blast Records. One likes to imagine the band triumphantly returning to the stage heralding a rebirth of live heavy music with themselves installed as statesmen of the cause, but hell’s bells, the world can be unkind to such optimism.

Earthless‘ last album was 2018’s Black Heaven (review here), which combined the instrumental sprawl on which much of their reputation of a live act is based — see also their ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ stream/live record (review here) — with more forward, classically-structured songwriting. What does their fifth record hold? I don’t know. Guitar solos? Killer drums and basslines? It’s fucking Earthless. The only thing you have to fear is fear itself, the plague, and everything else. New Earthless you don’t have to fear.

But really guys, what are the benefits of kombucha?

Guess we’ll find out.

Here’s what they had to say, short and sweet:

earthless

So it’s the wee hours of Sunday right now. We just wanna say that we have finished all the tracking, overdubs and seasonings for what will be our 5th studio album. We are very stoked to get this one out to you all. Big thanks to Ben Moore, Dean Reis and Singing Serpent Studios for an awesome week of recording and Thaddeus Robles for gear loanage! It was nice to do all of this in our hometown of San Diego. More to come. Cheers. #earthless #newalbum #singingserpent #kombuchabenefits #moaning #pain

Earthless is:
Bass: Mike Eginton
Drums: Mario Rubalcaba
Guitar & Vocals: Isaiah Mitchell

https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips
www.twitter.com/earthlessrips
www.instagram.com/earthlessrips
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
https://twitter.com/nuclearblastusa
http://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

Earthless, “Sonic Prayer” snippet from Live in the Mojave Desert

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Earthless Begin Recording New Album

Posted in Whathaveyou on April 6th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

earthless (Photo by Atiba Jefferson)

Good news for anyone out there who likes good news, as Earthless have entered the studio to begin recording the follow-up to 2018’s Black Heaven (review here), which will release sometime presumably later this year through Nuclear Blast Records as their second offering through the label.

The trio that spawned a thousand riffs also recently took part in the ‘Live in the Mojave Desert’ (review here) streaming series and have released a 2LP version of their set therefrom that is the latest in a long line of essential Earthless live recordings. Nonetheless, as a studio album from the band doesn’t come along as often, it’s to be considered a special occasion that they have one in the works.

Conditions and case-numbers permitting, one might just see a list of tour dates coming soon from the band, even if those dates are for the Fall or next Spring. The three-piece normally hit the road pretty hard, especially behind a new album, so how that before-time ethic might translate into current reality remains to be seen. Nonetheless, one hopes for an opportunity to catch the band in what’s long been established as their element sometime soon — though as much as their reputation is as a live act, Black Heaven brought new personality to their studio work and one likewise hopes their next offering will continue to build on that.

They posted the following:

Hello all, it’s been a long day- just a late night post to tell ya that we spent all day setting up and gett’n sounds and we are stoked to have officially begun recording thee 5th Earthless studio album. We are doing here at home in San Diego this time around with Ben Moore at Singing Serpent Studios – Nuclear Blast will release it. More pics n’ stories n’ stuff to come. #earthless #newalbum #singingserpentstudios #nuclearblastrecords

Earthless is:
Bass: Mike Eginton
Drums: Mario Rubalcaba
Guitar & Vocals: Isaiah Mitchell

https://www.facebook.com/earthlessrips
www.twitter.com/earthlessrips
www.instagram.com/earthlessrips
https://www.facebook.com/nuclearblastusa
https://twitter.com/nuclearblastusa
http://shop.nuclearblast.com/en/shop/index.html

Earthless, “Sonic Prayer” snippet from Live in the Mojave Desert

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Video Premiere: Formula 400, “Light My Way” from Heathens

Posted in Bootleg Theater on March 24th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

formula 400

San Diego’s Formula 400 released their debut album, Heathens, in October 2020 through Glory or Death Records, and the video premiering below for the leadoff track “Light My Way” could hardly be more representative of what’s on offer throughout the record. In it, we see four dudes, showing up in a room, kicking ass until the ass is kicked, and then being done. There are few frills and zero time wasted, and the material is presented without trickery or any pretense whatsoever. At no point in Heathens‘ 31-minute run — from “Light My Way” through the acoustic instrumental closer “The Long Road Home” after the six-minute “Sun Destroyer” as built up and shredded out and stretched itself across what seemed to be the album’s greatest reaches — are Formula 400 attempting to be anything they’re not. They’re cracking a beer and playing some tunes. What more would you ask?

If you missed it above, Heathens is short for an LP, seeming to embody a ‘keep ’em wanting more’ ethic that works fairly enough even with the epilogue they present. Between the gruff formula 400 heathensdelivery of the tracks and the riffs set to turn heads for fans of Wo Fat, Freedom Hawk and the like, they ride grooves like “Messenger” with its grungier hook and the bikerly-fuzzed “Ridin’ Easy” — you know that’s the name of a label, right guys? — smoothly ahead of “Spector,” which is about the now-dead producer/wall-of-sound-innovator/convicted-murderer named in its title. Plainly centered around their riffs, Formula 400‘s offer classic-style shifts in tempo and purpose, steering clear of the heavy psychedelic boogie for which their hometown has become known in recent years in favor of a more straightforward direction, begging no indulgences on their way to a sound that wouldn’t have been out of place on Small Stone Records some 20 years ago. Amazing how time flies. Or rides, as it were.

“Illusion” and “Sun Destroyer” have their hooks in place as well, as guitarist/vocalists Ian Holloway and Dan Frick work smoothly together, bassist Kip Page and drummer Ted Karol righteously refusing to relinquish the groove until the songs are done. The album would make a killer live set, maybe minus the outro for practicality’s sake, and one imagines that’s what Formula 400 had in mind. Until then, they seem glad enough to be making a toast and hitting it for “Light My Way,” and that works too from where I sit.

Nothin’ too fancy, but proof it doesn’t need to be when you do it right.

Enjoy:

Formula 400, “Light My Way” official video premiere

Ian Holloway on “Light My Way”:

“Light My Way” is the first song on our debut album, “Heathens.” It is a song written mostly about dealing with friends who have betrayed you and stabbed you in the back. You gotta burn those bridges down to the ground!

This video was recorded with no budget on a friend’s digital Canon Rebel and some various GoPro cams set up in our rehearsal space. It’s a video of us doing what we do best, rocking out! As with everything else in this band, we do it all ourselves. Enjoy, cheers.

Formula 400 are:
Dan Frick: Guitar and Vox
Kip Page: Bass
Ian Holloway: Guitar and Vox
Ted Karol: Drums

Formula 400, Heathens (2020)

Formula 400 on Thee Facebooks

Formula 400 on Instagram

Formula 400 on Bandcamp

Formula 400 website

Glory or Death Records on Thee Facebooks

Glory or Death Records on Instagram

Glory or Death Records on Bandcamp

Glory or Death Records webstore

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The Obelisk Questionnaire: Francis Roberts of Old Man Wizard & King Gorm

Posted in Questionnaire on February 22nd, 2021 by JJ Koczan

francis roberts

The Obelisk Questionnaire is a series of open questions intended to give the answerer an opportunity to explore these ideas and stories from their life as deeply as they choose. Answers can be short or long, and that reveals something in itself, but the most important factor is honesty.

Based on the Proust Questionnaire, the goal over time is to show a diverse range of perspectives as those who take part bring their own points of view to answering the same questions. To see all The Obelisk Questionnaire posts, click here.

Thank you for reading and thanks to all who participate.

The Obelisk Questionnaire: Francis Roberts of Old Man Wizard, King Gorm, etc.

How do you define what you do and how did you come to do it?

It’d take awhile to itemize it, but when I boil it down I basically look for new ways to have fun, and one of my favorite things to do is writing music. Right now I’m working on a new Old Man Wizard album (the songs are recorded! Now for the boring business side lol) and the first full-length Yaga-Shura album (that one is further away from being done). I’m toying with ideas for a second King Gorm release but that’s not really past the ideas phase. I’m focusing a great deal of my energy on my YouTube channel at the moment, too. I scored a portion of the upcoming film “The Spine of Night” which is the first feature-length film with my name in the credits!

Describe your first musical memory.

I may have it mixed up, but my parents either got me a toy guitar in Tijuana as a kid, a toy keyboard as a kid. After that it was recorder in school and then clarinet, and then generally not liking music for years before discovering the electric guitar as a teenager.

Describe your best musical memory to date.

I have a few that are pretty close to a tie:

-hearing my songs on an LP for the first time (it’s cool every time, one of the best feelings).

-being told I have created someone’s favorite song or album (also amazing every time it happens).

-watching a theater of people who (mostly) didn’t speak my language trying to sing along with a song I wrote.

When was a time when a firmly held belief was tested?

When I was growing up I always firmly believed in the power of good, and that even the worst people can find ways to redeem themselves. Although I’m still an optimistic person, I no longer believe that.

Where do you feel artistic progression leads?

When executed purely, I think it leads to true honesty.

How do you define success?

Are you able to experience happiness regularly? You’re successful.

What is something you have seen that you wish you hadn’t?

I typed out my answer, but even looking at it written down made me physically uncomfortable, so I’ve decided I’d rather not force you to read about it. Let’s just say that I’ve seen exactly one thing so fucking vile that I’d probably choose to erase the memory completely, given the choice. I guess it’d also be nice to unsee the entirety of whatever disgusting images people showed me in the early 2000s on rotten.com and other old internet nightmares like tubgirl.

Describe something you haven’t created yet that you’d like to create.

A hobby I come back to from time to time is creating video games. At some point I hope I make one that I feel good enough about to share publicly.

What do you believe is the most essential function of art?

To inspire the imaginations of others (ideally leading to the creation of more art).

Something non-musical that you’re looking forward to?

Spending time with my friends. Visiting my dad’s new home when it’s safe to travel by plane.

https://www.facebook.com/Old.Man.Wizard/
http://twitter.com/oldmanwizard
https://www.instagram.com/oldmanwizard/
http://oldmanwizard.com/
https://www.facebook.com/king.gorm.usa/
https://www.instagram.com/king.gorm/
https://kinggorm.bandcamp.com/
https://francisroberts.bandcamp.com/
https://twitter.com/f_c_r_
http://instagram.com/francisroberts

Francis Roberts, Story From Another Time (2020)

King Gorm, King Gorm (2020)

Old Man Wizard, Blame it all on Sorcery (2018)

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Live Stream Review: Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert

Posted in Reviews on January 25th, 2021 by JJ Koczan

earthless live in the mojave desert

Godspeed, Earthless. You carry the hopes and thanks of a grateful nation of weirdos.

The on-paper proposition doesn’t really do justice to actually seeing nighttime desert rocks painted with light while Earthless tear a hole in the galaxy as only they seem able to do. Earthless, Live in the Mojave Desert, while accurate in terms of the basic who and what and where, hardly begins to cover it.

I have watched a number of show-replacement streams at this point. “Well, no concerts because pandemic, so here’s this.” That’s not what this was. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience shared with anyone who had the foresight to acquire a pass. I don’t mind telling you I got emotional. On the sheer level of sensory input, it was hard not to be overwhelmed.

So there’s Earthless — guitarist Isaiah Mitchell, bassist Mike Eginton, drummer Mario Rubalcaba — out by Skull Rock in the desert. There were shots of them riding out in the back of a pickup truck, answering interview questions and so on; extraordinarily idyllic to a very specific audience to see Mitchell rattle off a current-listening list upwards of 30 including Ry Cooter, Hendrix and Buddhist chanting. They started playing in daytime and seemed to cut until night, at which point Lance Gordon and the crew of the famed Mad Alchemy Liquid Light Show came aboard and, together with the stage lighting, proceeded to color the night. Drone shots have perspective of the impressive scope of the event, and live audio by Dan Joeright of Gatos Trail Studio in Joshua Tree, not to mention mastering by John McBain, assured clarity at no loss of vitality.

It was, at the end, a work of love on the part of producer/director Ryan Jones, best known as one of the parties responsible for the Stoned and Dusted fest. This series of five streams that Earthless kicked off is more than just a show to watch for would-be real-life attendees. Sitting in my living room on a cold January afternoon, it was pure sonic escapism, made all the more resonant by the raw immersion of Earthless live. Something I’d probably never get to see otherwise, pandemic or not. It wasn’t trying to be a show happening in a dark venue somewhere. It was more like a hybrid concert and concert film, presented live in the new medium that the horror show of last year brought to prominence.

The production was flawless. And no, they weren’t actually live. I think it was filmed in November, but even as a streaming premiere, the work editing and splicing in visual effects and different shots only enhanced the viewing experience. Watching dudes perform to a single camera in their rehearsal room has a certain appeal to it, and I won’t say otherwise, but this was something special. Whether it was “Violence of the Red Sea” in daylight or “Sonic Prayer” and “Lost in the Cold Sun” closing out at night, it felt like a gift, a celebration honoring live music that, yeah, made you miss it, but managed to offer something of its own beyond that sad nostalgia for what’s been lost in the COVID era. Jones and his crew filming, the audio, lighting, tech people, the logistics work — it was all astounding to comprehend.

There will be four more, with NebulaSpirit MotherMountain Tamer and Stoner between now and the beginning of March. Then come the live albums, blu-rays, and so on. Without falling into some kind of “in this moment” cliché about the times humanity is living through — I guess the lucky ones are living, with upwards of 4,000 deaths per day — the fact of the matter is that even if gigs were happening, the Live in the Mojave Desert series would be something incredible to witness. If you saw this one on its first airing or you chase it down later, it is stuff of which legends are made. Recommended.

Earthless, “Sonic Prayer” snippet from Live in the Mojave Desert

Earthless on Thee Facebooks

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Earthless on Bandcamp

Live in the Mojave Desert tickets at Tixr

California Desert Wizards Association website

California Desert Wizards Association Instagram

Stoned and Dusted on Thee Facebooks

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Heavy Psych Sounds website

Heavy Psych Sounds on Bandcamp

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